If it's about the Cowboy's and is published in a public forum, chances are, my eyes don't miss it. Regardless of my opinion of the writer, which varies from one media outlet to the next, I give each article a fair shake, not so much as a result of them being deserving, but by virtue of my ardent insatiable Cowboy information addiction. In my daily dose, I must weather quite a bit of negative speculation; which I'm okay with for the most part, considering that in many cases in the past it has been deserved. But sometimes the media's opinion will take a quote and completely twist it around to make the news more interesting and more marketable. I further believe they do this because it creates an opening for them to write more articles on the same subject either posting a retraction or to further prove their assertion, with, in the end, helps them meet whatever quota their bosses demand of them.
Last year, this issue, in my mind, was an epidemic, which led to Jerry Jones finally imposing a mandate that gagged the whole of the organization from speaking to the media during the early part of the off-season; Jerry being the only exception to the rule. I, personally, applauded this move. The media, obviously, was pretty upset about it. But when you take words out of the owner's mouth such as, "I was told he was healthy enough to play" said in regards to Marion Barber, and turn it into "Jerry Jones calls Marion Barber a wuss," you have to know there will be consequences.
Nevertheless, it's a new year, and the mediots are at it again. With it sprung in my head an idea: There should be some forum that makes an effort at keeping these particular media members honest. Just as they notoriously paraphrase the various gum-bumping of members of the Cowboys organization, so shall I do what I can to paint the picture that was originally intended by the benefactor of said quote.
The latest quote receiving negative attention is Jerry Jones assertion that he believes the Cowboy's team will play to the level of the new stadium; that these player's will feel a slight push towards winning surrounded by a structure that could only be described as elite compared to it's peers Texas Stadium and the Cotton Bowl, as well any other stadium ever built in the world. While the following doesn't exactly twist Jerry's word's, it is worthy of correction.
In Jean-Jacques Taylor blog entry "Jerry Jones has lost his mind," he contends that the stadium will have absolutely no effect on the players or the outcome in the game.
Jerry Jones is a marketing genius, but he has lost his mind if he thinks Cowboys Stadium will make a single bit of difference in the team's performance this year.
Just like the emotion of the final game at Texas Stadium didn't help the Cowboys beat Baltimore last December. And just like the raucous crowd the night "The Triplets" were inducted into the Ring of Honor didn't help the Cowboys beat the hated Redskins.
I suppose it's fairly easy to take this out of context; not much reaching is necessary to do so. And, granted, the last thing I want anybody within the organization vocalizing is lofty expectations, such as the Cowboy's being Super Bowl bound in 2009. But I think what Jerry was trying to relate to the media is that this team is going to fight to make us forget 44 to 6, 9 and 7, and 12 years without a play off win. And this stadium, built with the teams storied history and prior dynasties in mind, is going to motivate them all the more to ensure their play reflects the excellence that their predecessor's demanded of themselves.
Furthermore, the interior of Cowboy's stadium creates an atmosphere ripe for a fanatic frenzy. As you walk from your car to your seat, having been inundated with Cowboy's lore and past glory, I would imagine you won't be able to resist screaming at the top of your lungs as the Cowboy's take the field, move the ball, and destroy the opposing team's various ball carriers and signal callers. JJT seems to believe that the price of the ticket will ultimately create a golf crowd, highlighted by the occasional clinking of glasses, as the fans toast various well-performed plays, considering his quote:
Actually, Jerry should be concerned that there will be so many corporate butts in the stands that it'll be a quieter venue Texas Stadium, known for being a wine-and-cheese crowd.
Yeah, okay. If you say so, Jean.
Those "corporate butts" at the end of the day are still human, and chances are they are still fans, and therefore are not immune to getting drawn into the hype that just sitting in that stadium must create. Also, I would further predict that the ability to see every detail of the game in high definition via that 60 yard long big screen will help fuel the excitement. Make no mistake, the media may need to yell their questions at the top of their lungs in the wake of a football game, as they question the ringing ears of players from both sides of the field.
But, hey, that's just me speculating from a positive angle. As the season progresses, I'm sure the media will afford me plenty of opportunities to offer up a corrected translation of what was actually said vs. their misguided misinformation.
Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?
The Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss at the Los Angeles Rams is still fresh on the minds of their players, staff, and front office. So much so that the team had to fan the flames on a Jason Garrett comment expecting Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to return. Garrett himself walked back this "report" once Stephen Jones noted it's still too early for any coaching staff changes. The focus will remain on Linehan's post until it's removed or the Cowboys OC is retained, but one coordinator the Cowboys now expect to keep is Rod Marinelli on defense.
Marinelli himself disputed the season-long belief that this was likely his last as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. With Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard not taking any of the three HC positions he interviewed for, Marinelli doesn't have to worry about shuffling his title to accommodate Richard - who called the plays from week one this season anyway.
Rod's title does include his specialty as defensive line coach though, a unit that the Rams dominated with their offensive line to a historic degree. The Rams' season-high 273 rushing yards was provided by both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson surpassing 100 yards on the ground, the first time in team history they've had two backs reach this mark in a single playoff game.
Rams HC Sean McVay hardly had to reach into his vaunted 'bag of tricks' to expose the Cowboys defense in a way they hadn't been all year, but there was still an element of brilliance in his offensive game plan. It came out after the game that the Rams picked up on the keys the Dallas defensive linemen used to signal stunts and twists before the snap. While this is nothing more than just great scouting yielding an unforeseen advantage, it's left the Cowboys with more than enough time to ponder what went wrong in the Coliseum.
The Rams offensive line knew what the Cowboys defensive line was going to do before the snap on Saturday. https://t.co/oGo6Eiz4av
The answer to this may be nothing other than the coaching questions the Cowboys are already considering. With Richard's interviews in Tampa Bay, Miami, and New York coming at the beginning of the week leading up to game day, it's possible Marinelli had a larger say in the Cowboys preparation on defense.
It was Marinelli's defense that conceded 412 yards to the Rams in 2017 in a loss at AT&T Stadium. Matching him up with McVay leaves a lot to be desired, while Richard helps bridge this gap - something he was seen desperately trying to do on the sideline with a battered Cowboys defense.
As each day of the offseason passes, a change at either coordinator position becomes less likely in Dallas. On offense, the play caller has more than a season's worth of evidence showing the deficiencies of the Cowboys attack. In a league fueled by recency bias however, Marinelli certainly didn't leave his best performance on the field in Los Angeles.
Somewhere in the middle of this is Jason Garrett, safely in place as the head coach that should be personally trying to upgrade his top two assistants however possible. Marinelli signing up for another year makes this hard on defense, though Richard should resume play calling duties next season.
Again, this leaves the onus of the Cowboys improvements for 2019 on the offensive side of the ball, something that'll be realized when the shock of their defense letting them down in the biggest game of the season is gone.
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
You may have already heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be flush with salary cap space in 2019, and that's very accurate. A huge portion of it comes from over $30 million in expiring cap penalties, otherwise known as "dead money."
Quick explanation; dead money occurs when a player is released or retires prior to the expiration of their contract. Any guaranteed money, such as the original signing bonus or money converted in a restructuring, that has not yet been paid out according to the contract schedule is accelerated.
For example, when Tony Romo retired after 2016, he still had $19.6 million in guaranteed money owed to him. Dallas chose to split this dead money over two years, and thus had a $10.7 cap penalty in 2017 and $8.9 million last season.
But now Romo's dead money, along with Dez Bryant's and several other players, is coming off the Cowboys' books. The result is a roughly $30 million infusion of salary cap space for 2019.
Here were the major culprits for last year's dead money:
(All cap figures are taken from Spotrac.com)
- QB Tony Romo - $8.9 million
- WR Dez Bryant - $8 million
- DT Cedric Thornton - $2.5 million
- CB Orlando Scandrick - $2.3 million
- CB Nolan Carroll - $2 million
- WR Deonte Thompson - $1.8 million
- DE Benson Mayowa - $1.1 million
- K Dan Bailey - $800 thousand
- TE James Hanna - $750 thousand
Those players alone make up a little over $28 million. Another $4 million or so came from over 30 players with lesser penalties that still added up.
Right now, the Cowboys have only $1.76 million in dead money on their 2019 salary cap. Nearly all of that is the $1.6 million still owed to Orlando Scandrick.
That difference is where the cap space comes from, and it will be of tremendous help to Dallas as they have major financial moves coming. They need to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence, deal with a major salary bump for Amari Cooper, and consider a contract extension for Dak Prescott.
The 2019 number will change, of course, as the offseason rolls on. If Dallas elects to release players like Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, or others, some dead money will appear. But that will be offset by whatever cap savings motivated the move in the first place.
This is a good reminder of why the Cowboys' new era of fiscal conservatism is a good thing. After years of what felt like perpetual "salary cap hell," they are finally getting out from under those penalties and have complete flexibility this offseason. They may not even need to cut a guy like Crawford, who they almost would have been forced to in past seasons.
We'll be talking a lot more about individual players and their contracts in the weeks ahead, but this summary helps us see that Dallas isn't nearly up against the financial wall as they have been. We still miss guys like Romo and Dez, but we won't miss that awful dead money in 2019.
Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program
Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.
After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.
Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire
While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.
It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.
Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.
That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.
But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.
Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.
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